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THE VIRTUES OF DHUL HIJJAH (Days of Celebration)

July 8, 2022

الحمد لله، والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله، وبعد:

قُلۡ بِفَضۡلِ ٱللَّهِ وَبِرَحۡمَتِهِۦ فَبِذَٲلِكَ فَلۡيَفۡرَحُواْ هُوَ خَيۡرٌ مِّمَّا يَجۡمَعُونَ

Say: "In the Grace of Allâh, and in His Mercy let them rejoice." That is far better than whatever (wealth) they amass. (Quran 10:58)

Allah Almighty, in His Grace and Mercy, made some days more auspicious than others (just as He gives special status to selected people and places in His creation). The Ninth and Tenth days of Dhul Hijjah have a significant place in the hearts of Muslims wherever they may be, as they have been given special virtue and preference in the Islamic calendar - even over and above the rest of the first ten (blessed) days of the month. Each one has been called “the greatest day of the year” by Prophet Muhammad (SAW), on separate occasions of course. These two days are known respectively as the Day of Arafat and the Day of Sacrifice or Eid al-Adha.

Muslims, whether they are at Hajj or not, celebrate these two days in their own unique way. The non-pilgrims are encouraged to fast the Day of Arafah as a means of glorifying Allah AND, at the same time, of standing in spiritual solidarity with the pilgrims (and thereby be rewarded with the expiation of the sins of the past year and the coming year). This may also offset the sadness and regret true believers may feel for not being able to be bodily present at the Hajj. However, the celebration is mutual, as Allah also praises the pilgrims (Hujjaj) for their endeavors and sets them and others free on this day from the Fire of Jahannam:

عَنْ جَابِرٍ (رضي الله عنه) قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: « وَمَا مِنْ يَوْمٍ أَفْضَلُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ مِنْ يَوْمِ عَرَفَةَ يَنْزِلُ اللَّهُ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ الدُّنْيَا فَيُبَاهِي بِأَهْلِ الْأَرْضِ أَهْلَ السَّمَاءِ فَيَقُولُ انْظُرُوا إِلَى عِبَادِي شُعْثًا غُبْرًا ضَاحِينَ جَاءُوا مِنْ كُلِّ فَجٍّ عَمِيقٍ يَرْجُونَ رَحْمَتِي وَلَمْ يَرَوْا عَذَابِي فَلَمْ يُرَ يَوْمٌ أَكْثَرُ عِتْقًا مِنَ النَّارِ مِنْ يَوْمِ عَرَفَةَ. »

Jabir (RAA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings be Upon Him) said, “No day is better to Allah than the day of Arafat. Allah descends to the lowest heaven and He boasts to the inhabitants of the heavens (the angels) about the inhabitants of the earth (at Arafat), saying: ‘Look at My servants, appearing disheveled and dusty, and sacrificing (for My pleasure). They came from every mountain pass hoping for My mercy, (even if) they do not see My punishment. There is no no other day on which more (people) are saved from Hellfire than the day of Arafat.’” (Ibn Hibban)

Imams al-Bukhari and Muslim also report that a Jewish man addressed Umar ibn al-Khattab (RAA) during his caliphate and said that there is an ayah in the Holy Quran, had it been revealed to the Jews, they would celebrate annually the day on which it was revealed. When Umar was told which ayah, he indicated that we Muslims do in fact celebrate this day (but in our special way). The ayah, or part thereof, that he was referring to is:

ٱلۡيَوۡمَ أَكۡمَلۡتُ لَكُمۡ دِينَكُمۡ وَأَتۡمَمۡتُ عَلَيۡكُمۡ نِعۡمَتِى وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ ٱلۡإِسۡلَـٰمَ دِينًا

Today, I have perfected your faith for you, completed My favor upon you, and chosen for you Islâm as your way. (Quran 5:3)

Ibn Abbas (RAA) added; “It was revealed on a day of (double) Eid: Friday and the Day of Arafah”.

When the Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) migrated to the city of Madinah, he told the Muslims there, as reported by Anas (May Allah be Pleased with Him) in Musnad Ahmad, that: “Allah has given them Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha as a better alternative than the two days that they had been celebrating before Islam”. Allah had replaced the days of play and entertainment (only) with days of gratitude, remembrance of Him and forgiveness, by prescribing extra acts of worship. Holidays in the Islamic calendar are after all, in essence, true holy days!

For us Muslims, the days of Eid - which also include, on a weekly basis, Friday - days of joy and celebration or glorification and dhikr (remembrance): for the blessings bestowed by Allah, for enacting or completing certain extraordinary rituals, and for having attained the pleasure of the Almighty, and His rewards and forgiveness (in sha Allah).

Friday/al-Jum’ah is the best day of the week, and in the year - according to some traditions (ahadeeth) of the Prophet of Allah (SAW). It is a day of thanksgiving for having been able to accomplish the five daily prayers (salah) for that week - salah being the greatest pillar of Islam. It is celebrated by, among other things, donning one’s best clothes, reciting Surat al-Kahf (Chapter 18) and attending the Jum’ah sermon and prayers in the masjid.

Eid al-Fitr comes at the completion of the fast of Ramadan (and perhaps for many, too, the execution of zakah during that month) and with it extra prayers and charity (zakat al-fitr), as well as magnifying the praises of Allah (takbeer).

Eid al-Adha or the Day of Sacrifice - the greater of the two Eids - coincides with the climax of the Hajj, yet another pillar of Islam, and the completion of its main component: standing in worship on the plains of Arafat. This day is celebrated by the pilgrims, who are indeed the special guests of the Most Merciful ( ضيوف الرحمن ), by certain rituals like stoning the devil, sacrificing their animals, removing their ihram and circumambulating the Ka’bah (tawaaf). For those who are not at Hajj, the day is commemorated by sacrificing an animal (udhiyah) - this in addition to remembering Allah (dhikr) and extolling His praises (takbeer), as well as establishing additional community prayers (Salat al-Eid).

And thus it is: the day of Eid is a celebration of our relationship with, and submission to, Allah (SWT). Al-Hasan al-Basri (RA) said; “Every day in which Allah is not disobeyed is an Eid; every day that a believer spends obeying Allah, remembering Him and thanking Him is an Eid''. Ibn Rajab (RA) adds: “Every day that the Muslims spend (in obedience to Allah) in this world, will be a day of Eid for them in the Hereafter”. He goes on to explain that, just as the other pillars of Islam are only considered complete by specific acts of worship or celebration, so too the shahadah (declaration of faith): when it is followed up by fulfilling its requirements and establishing its tangible conditions, then and only then is one’s faith perfected. “The true believers,” he concludes, “strive consistently to achieve this, and therefore every day for them is an Eid in this world and (will be) in the next''.

The teachings of Islam forbid fasting on the two days of Eid. The three days that follow Eid al-Adha, known as ayyaam (days of) al-Tashreeq, are also days of celebration and dhikr, and Muslims should not fast during this time - as a reward for their efforts in the days before. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:

عن نُبيشةَ الهذلي (رضي الله عنه) قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : «أيام التشريق أيام أكل وشرب وذكر لله عز وجل. » أخرجه مسلم

Nubayshah al-Hudhali (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings of Allah be Upon Him) said: “The days of al-Tashreeq are the days of eating and drinking, and of remembering Allah, glorified and exalted be He.” (Muslim)

Muslims around the world and the pilgrims (Hujjaj) in Mina during these days are encouraged to continue to enjoy the meat of the animals they sacrificed and persist in glorifying and thanking Allah. The Hujjaj in particular would be celebrating the end of the most important event of their spiritual life, and would be fulfilling the needs of their bodies and souls and completing Allah’s favor upon them. As the delegation (wafd / وفد ) to Allah representing the rest of the ummah and as His special guests, it is not befitting that He denies them His hospitality, as suggested by al-Imam Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah (RA). Their reward is for both worlds, and they are encouraged to keep praying for it as they prepare to return to their homes, and in anticipation of Allah’s acceptance. Thus, the cycle starts all over again as they, and the rest of the Muslims, are instructed by Allah to constantly seek the bounties of this world and the Hereafter.

We actually have in our tradition a beautiful du’aa that is most comprehensive and one that the Prophet (SAW) himself repeated often and included with his other prayers. According to our scholars, the best of both worlds are embedded in this supplication, including knowledge, worship and pure means of sustenance, as well as Heaven (al-Jannah) and Allah’s pleasure. The passage on Hajj in Surat al-Baqarah, in fact, ends with this very du’aa, profound and worthy in itself of intense reflection and continuous repetition: "Our Lord! Give us in this world that which is good, and in the Hereafter that which is good, and protect us from the torment of the Fire!" (2:201)

رَبَّنَآ ءَاتِنَا فِى ٱلدُّنۡيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِى ٱلۡأَخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ ٱلنَّارِ
آمين ، يا رب العالمين

Ameen, O Lord of the Universe!

Have a blessed Eid al-Adha! May you and your family be blessed by Allah Almighty with goodness and piety. May Allah accept all our good deeds and forgive us for the bad ones. May He keep us on the path of guidance and steadfastness all year long. All praises are due to Allah and peace and blessings be upon His last prophet and messenger.

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